Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 6-6

Posted by Chris Brown on June 6, 2014 – 12:02 pm

Two weeks of OTAs are in the books with a week to go beginning this coming Monday. As always we’ll have full coverage here on Buffalobills.com. Here now are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I liked what Bills did in rounds 1,2,3 however they did not address DE. Manny Lawson has never played end and Wynn is a bubble player at most. Hughes is more of a situational pass rusher. I’m a bit concerned what they are doing. Since they won’t blitz as much the DE’s are more important under Schwartz. This puts more pressure on young DB’s as well. What do you think the future is at DE for 2014?

CB: I don’t know that you can assume that this defense under Schwartz won’t blitz as much. From what I’ve witnessed in OTAs with the blitz packages going in there are an array of packages that Schwartz has in his playbook. How often he uses them remains to be seen.

Lawson and Hughes will likely split the right defensive end role with Lawson in on more obvious run downs and Hughes on passing downs.

What you might need to consider is how often Schwartz’s defenses in the past have put an opponent in a situation where blitzing is not necessary.

Knowing that Schwartz’s Detroit defense last season finished first in the league in third down conversion percentage allowed (30.3%) and were second in the league in red zone defense (Bills were 14th and 6th) I’m going to give Buffalo’s defensive coordinator the benefit of the doubt that he’ll know when to blitz and how often to do so.


2 –
Hi Chris
I’m a long time Clemson fan and enjoyed watching C.J. Spiller returning kicks. He is one of the best I have ever seen at it and I billeve he could challenge Devin Hesters records. With the need at special teams, Do you think the Bills should try C.J. returning kickoffs? He does hold the FBS record for kickoff return touchdowns with 7.

Thanks, Chris Gerland

CB: It’s funny that you bring this up. As I wrote in our OTA practice notes column earlier this week C.J. Spiller was one of the kick returners in practice along with T.J. Graham and Leodis McKelvin. Spiller hasn’t returned a kick for the Bills since 2011, but it looks as though he’s at least being considered for the 2014 season. That being said I wouldn’t get excited about this possibly happening until we see it in a preseason game.


3 –
Hi Chris,

With the new additions at cornerback, and a new defensive coordinator, it almost seems like Nickell Robey has been getting lost in the mix, after a productive rookie campaign.

I’ve been wondering, has their been any talk about trying him out at safety as a possible replacement for Byrd?

Between his solid tackling and his playmaking ability, I think he could transition well into the role, which would also serve to reduce his height concerns. Jim Leonhard has had a decent career at FS for a shorter defensive back.

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Thank you,
John
CB: I don’t think you have anything to worry about with Nickell Robey. First, Robey has looked solid in his nickel corner role. Yes, he will have competition, chiefly in the form of Corey Graham, but knowing how much New England goes four wide as well as other opponents on Buffalo’s roster like Denver, Detroit, Kansas City and Green Bay chances are Buffalo will need to make use of both of those slot defenders.

To help you breathe easier about Robey’s role on this team I’ll refer you to a recent quote by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Robey.

“If you measure heart, if you measure things like that, he’s six-foot ten,” said Schwartz of Robey. “He’s been a guy that’s been impressive and it hasn’t just been from watching practice here.  Watching last year’s tape.  He’s very unique in some of the quickness he has.  He’s got great anticipation, sees the game very well and he’s certainly going to have a role. He’s been one of best players through our OTAs so far.” 


4 –
Hi Chris,

Thank you for all you do. Let me start by saying I’m extremely happy with our draft this year! My question is regarding our depth at the receiver position. I think it may be difficult for a guy like TJ Graham to make it on the field. Another guy I like is Marcus Easley. I know Easley helped out, and excelled on special teams last year. Do you think that they might keep a guy like TJ, and utilize his speed on special teams? If not I’m afraid I don’t think he’ll make the roster. I look forward to hearing your opinion!
Thanks,
Dan Edel
Buffalo native, teaching English in Thailand

CB: I do think T.J. is in for an uphill battle due mainly to the fact that additions like Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams are automatically ahead of him on the depth chart. Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin were draft choices deemed as fits by this coaching staff. Graham was inherited.

Add in the fact that the staff likes Kevin Elliott, who could carve out a role on special teams as well and both Graham and Easley will be battling for one of the final spots on Buffalo’s roster with players like Elliott and Chris Hogan, both of whom have shown well thus far in OTAs.


5 -
Chris;
With the trade of Stevie Johnson to the 49ers do they Bills have any financial obligations remaining from his contract?
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Howard
Rochester Hills, MI

CB: The figure I have is $10.225M in dead money, which the Bills can spread over the next three seasons, which is the length that Johnson’s contract ran.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-28

Posted by Chris Brown on February 28, 2014 – 11:56 am

Franchise tags and free agency is up next this offseason, but let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,
Love all the great work you do in keeping those of us who root for the Bills but no longer live in WNY up to date on the pulse of the organization.  I want to give a shout out to my fellow Bills Backers here in Portland OR.

My question is what do you think the chances are of the Bills making a real push to go after Jimmy Graham in FA? The talk is that the coaching staff wants to add a big target and a pass catching TE for EJ.  With Graham you get both (and maybe the best receiver in the NFL outside of Megatron).

I know he won’t come cheap and they have many TE on the roster but wouldn’t adding him be a major coup for the offense just like Mario was for the defense?  It sure looks like the new regime in buffalo is trying to change the culture and this move would be another big step in that direction. He won’t be cheap and we would have to overpay (see Mario again) to get him but WOW.  Do the Bills have the cap space and upcoming FA room to swing such a deal?

Norm

CB: I don’t anticipate Graham being available on the open market. The Saints know their offense takes a crippling hit without him and will do whatever they have to in order to keep him in the fold.
2 – Chris,

Obviously there is not a Bills fan out there that can thank you enough for all the hard work you do. It shows you love what you do.
Question: I am hearing a lot of talk about drafting a WR come May. I am on board with this pick. With Bills brass bringing in tall WR’s this offseason, I can assume they might want to address this in the draft as well. What I do not get is all the talk about S. Watkins. He is a true top WR, but I already see the same skill set he has in Goodwin, Woods, and Graham. What would be the benefit of adding another receiver of his capability when we the Bills need a tall jump ball receiver?

Dan
Cottonwood, AZ

CB: As outlined by Bills GM Doug Whaley their definition of a big receiver is not based solely on height. We covered this in our NFL combine feature story on Sammy Watkins, who is an example of a big receiver, even though he stands just 6’1”. Here was Whaley’s exact quote in explaining a phrase he likes to use, ‘big wins.’

“At the wide receiver position ‘big wins’ means a guy that plays big,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “He may be six foot, but if he continues to catch the ball away from his body and has long arms, then he’ll play like a 6-4 or 6-5 guy. Now you can also have a guy that’s 6-5, but catches the ball into his body. He doesn’t play big. So it’s not only just the physical measurements of being big, but being able to play big on the field.”
3 – Hey Chris ,

Here’s a quick one for you . Seeing as most all of the experts last year saw the QB class as not very good & the pick of EJ as a reach for the Bills (all but Marrone, Nix, Whaley, & Brandon) do you see us taking a QB if a good one falls in our lap in the later rounds ? Especially seeing as the supposed experts see this years QB class as being a very good one filled with candidates !

Thanks again for your time

Mr T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I don’t think you can rule that out as a possibility knowing the Bills subscribe to the best player on the board philosophy. Of course we’ll have to see what Buffalo does in free agency beforehand.

I’ll also say we need to be mindful of the fact that three of the four quarterbacks on the roster are all young and inexperienced. I’m not sure adding another, unless he’s one of extraordinary value, is of interest to the Bills.

 

4 – Hi Chris, thank you for all the coverage you provide for the Buffalo Bills fans all across the country.

I have two questions for you:

As per the last question I sent you regarding Eric Decker going to the Bills, you said that he would not be a good fit. Ok, I buy that, but how about Kenny Britt or Darius Heyward-Bey? The Bills do need size at the receiving position, and either of these two would provide that.

Also, It has been publicized that the Buffalo Bills will need a veteran backup quarterback to back up E. J. Manuel, in case of another injury. particularly one that can win football games. Two names that come to mind are Chad Henne and Kellen Clemens.

What are your thoughts? As always, I am looking forward to reading your response.

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: Kenny Britt is a talent no question and has size, but his injury history is undoubtedly a concern. The Bills and other NFL clubs will investigate that thoroughly. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a tall and fast receiver, but I’m not sure he’s the bona fide answer the Bills are looking for at the position. We’ll see.

As for the QB free agent market I wouldn’t mind Chad Henne as a backup option. Kellen Clemens is another story. Matt Cassel wouldn’t be a bad option either.

 

5 –  Hi Chris,

Thanks for the coverage.
Q- After watching the Super Bowl seeing Kam Chancellor blow up Denver’s big wideouts and thinking that we might lose Byrd. Do you think if a big receiver is taken in the draft what would it take to get Marcus Easley a look at safety. He was great on special teams and if he’s not being used at receiver why not?
Thanks, Andy (Rochester)

CB: I really doubt that would ever be an option mainly because Buffalo has some young safeties on the depth chart already. I think Duke Williams is a very talented and underrated prospect and will be a good player in this league. I think Jonathan Meeks also has a lot of potential, so there really isn’t a need to move Easley to the other side of the ball.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Aaron, Stevie out; Easley added to report

Posted by Chris Brown on December 27, 2013 – 12:51 pm

Bills WR Stevie Johnson and S Aaron Williams have been declared out for Sunday’s game at New England. Marcus Easley meanwhile was a Friday addition to Buffalo’s injury report.

Easley sustained a knee injury in practice Friday and was listed as a limited participant. He’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Here’s the full rundown of players on Buffalo’s injury report.

OUT
S Aaron Williams – ribs
WR Stevie Johnson – not injury related

DOUBTFUL
QB EJ Manuel – knee

PROBABLE
WR Marquise Goodwin – knee
WR Marcus Easley – knee
RB Fred Jackson – ribs
DT Kyle Williams – achilles


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 12-20

Posted by Chris Brown on December 20, 2013 – 12:00 pm

Sunday will be step one in trying to post a winning record in the division for the first time since the 2007 season. Let’s see if the Bills can make it a season sweep of the Dolphins. Here’s your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris,

As a Bills’ fan for decades, I believe coach Marrone is a good coach. The question is whether he can turn around the losing culture. I have a few questions regarding accountability and talents.

What are the Bills going to do with the undependable players? This includes, but not limited to, Steve Johnson, Leodis McKelvin and T. J. Graham.

What is Jairus Byrd’s long term prospect with the Bills? The Bills like to get rid of established players to save a few bucks. In the end, this contributes to a longer wish list for the ever rebuilding process. A
recent example is the Offensive line. My suggestion is to get rid of Steve Johnson and save some money for Byrd’s contract. (Note, The Bills is in the business to make money. I suppose a better product would lead to increased revenue. In this case, a true contender in NFL).

What is the long term plan for the QB position? I mean both first string and backup in this case? While coach Marrone indicated EJ Manuel is the long term solution. I beg the difference. EJ is not playing any
better than JP Losman by comparing their rookie year. Lewis and Tuel are littering their path with interceptions and fumbles. How long do you think these two can keep their job in NFL?

Marcus Easley seems to be doing a very good job in special teams. What is the possibility of moving him to CB if the Bills cannot use him as WR? This may afford the team to get rid of Leodis McKelvin thereby saving more money.

The New England Patriots seem to be able to overcome huge deficit consistently. When playing with the Patriots (as well as other teams), what are the Bills doing to safeguard our calls/signals from being stolen?

Please keep up with the good work.
Regards,
C. J. Wong, Ph.D.

CB: I understand why you feel like the players you mentioned are not dependable. This is where the coaches and front office make their offseason evaluations, but being dependable goes beyond just game day. It’s about being a professional every day of the week in everything that you do. So if the players you mentioned struggle in those areas then they could be at risk with respect to their futures here.

Doug Marrone is only going to keep players on this roster that he feels he can win with the way he wants to win. He has stressed accountability time and again and has been clear in explaining to his players what accountability means. They’ve had all season to prove they’re on board. If they’re not, and only the coaches and their teammates would know for certain if that’s the case, then they won’t be here long term.

As for Jairus Byrd, the safety has said he’s open-minded to staying here long term, which is an improvement in terms of where that situation was this past summer. I think Byrd is smart enough to know that he can really flourish in this defense with the talent he has around him on that side of the ball. Talent that is tied up long term for the most part. Byrd has to be convinced that he can win here and as is usually the case the money has to be right as well.

At the quarterback position EJ is their long term answer at the position. You may not be convinced, but the people that make those decisions are. I believe this offseason will be dedicated to putting more talent around Manuel to help him succeed. We’ve certainly seen flashes of ability. What has me most encouraged is the way in which Manuel performs when the game is on the line. Buffalo has needed a clutch quarterback for the longest time and Manuel has shown he has that ability. With improved talent around him he’ll also be better for the other portions of the game too.

I believe the decision makers still see Jeff Tuel as a developmental type prospect. Thad Lewis is still being evaluated, which is why Sunday’s game is huge for him. He’s proven he’s tough and that he can deliver big plays. Now he has to prove he can learn from his mistakes and improve from some of his shortcomings in the first meeting with Miami. It’s really the perfect litmus test for him.

I completely disagree with your Marcus Easley idea. Easley doesn’t not have the foot quickness to play CB, and Leodis McKelvin is having his most consistent season in a Bills uniform at cornerback. Not to mention he’s playing at very affordable money for his position.

Finally, the reason the Patriots are able to overcome big deficits is primarily one reason and one reason only, they have one of the best quarterbacks in a generation in Tom Brady. End of story.

 

2 – Hi Chris, I live in Western Canada so it is always hard to get coverage on the Bills out here.  So I really appreciate all your updates.

My question is about Stevie Johnson.  It seems every year there is a play that he fails to make that costs us a game.  The game against Pittsburgh in OT where he dropped the wide open pass, the game against the Jets when he again dropped a game winning TD, and of course against the Falcons which just didn’t just cost us that game, but our season.

He is a great receiver, no doubt about that, but I question if he is ever going to be a clutch number 1 receiver.   We all agree that we need a big “go up and get it” receiver.  So if we get that receiver, someone has to go.

I think we should consider trading Stevie Johnson this off season.  Robert Woods is precise in route running and has good chemistry with EJ, and Goodwin and Graham are fast on the outside and can also move inside when needed.   I think Stevie is odd man out and gives us the most return for our buck, plus maybe he is to used to losing in Buffalo.  What do you think we could get for Johnson?  A 2nd rounder or maybe someone like Bowe in KC?

Paddy, Vancouver Canada

CB: I think Johnson is the type of receiver whose return in a trade would be limited. The reason why is he is a possession receiver. He’s a move-the-chains player not a stretch the field, deliver a game-changing play every week type wideout. Johnson is a very unique player with a unique skill set, but he is not going to blow the doors off a defense. All that being said I think at best he’d get you a fourth-round draft choice. Frankly, it might be even less because his contract may not fit the role another team might envision for him, so to take on that salary would likely lead to a team offering less in return like a fifth or sixth-round pick.

3 – Hey Chris,

My question is regarding the offensive line.  How do you see the Bills helping the line in the off season? I know they have to see how guys like JJ ‘Unga pan out over the last 3 games, but if they do go after a guy in the draft, do you see them going after a guy who can be versatile? Are there typically guys who can play guard and tackle?  I would imagine that’s what coaches look for in any player on the field.  Do you think free agency is possible?  Also, do you think Chris Hairston will be able to return to form?
Thanks, Jillian

CB: I would not be surprised if there are wholesale changes made on the offensive line. As I see it the only players who have job security are Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood. Kraig Urbik rebounded real well this past week after a down week in Tampa, but I think he will be pushed for his starting job this offseason and into training camp based on what we saw the past couple of weeks with J.J. ‘Unga. Beyond those three I expect to see change there. I think the organization will look to the draft and free agency to address the offensive line.

 

4 – Chris,
Thanks for the great reporting, week by week for the Bills. Yourself and John Murphy do a great job but My question is based of everything about this youth movement and getting these unknown guys more playing time. I been listening and reading about the guys y’all are naming but I keep seeing this guy left out…. Duke Williams? Why is he not getting involved in the discussions and not getting more reps? What part of his game is lacking that has him buried on the depth chart? Because before the season he was getting hyped up as a utility guy in the secondary, that could play multiple positions. What happened? Please explain that to me.

Brian in South Carolina

CB: Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sure to pass them along to Murph. Duke Williams is a player that has been seeing time mainly on special teams. The reason he has not seen time at safety is because there is quality and experienced talent in front of him in Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard. I do think heading into next season Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks could challenge for bigger roles and what happens with Byrd and Leonhard this offseason with both being free agents will have an impact on that as well.

 

5 – Chris,

I have been surprised at the lack of two back sets the Bills are utilizing this year. I would think this would confuse defenses as Fred is a highly capable pass-blocking back and we all know about CJ’s home run ability with every touch. Would these formations not mix things up and keep opposing defenses off balance… not knowing to expect run or pass?

Also, I am concerned (as are many fans) about the utilization of CJ Spiller. Not in terms of number of plays per game, or on the year, but the play calls he is being used in. They seem to heavily favor running him behind the left or right guards. Why not more screen plays? I think all of us get excited when CJ Spiller has the ball with 3-4 blockers in front of him with the ability to pick and choose which lanes he wants to take.

Thanks!
Jim from Massachusetts

CB: We saw some split backfield in training camp, but there has been very little of it during the season. I do think there is an element of predicitability there when they have only Fred or C.J. on the field in a single back set. Heading into last week’s Jacksonville game I know that Spiller had not been on the field for more than 40 percent of the snaps since Week 2.

However, when he is on the field he got the ball 60 percent of the time. While the usage is admirable I fear that it makes Buffalo’s offense predictable when Spiller is in the backfield.

Jackson is usually on the field in third down situations because they trust him with blitz pickup and blocking assignments.

I don’t know a one-thousandth of what Nathaniel Hackett knows about football, but I do think a split backfield with C.J. and Fred in the offensive backfield on third down could create a lot of headaches for opposing defenses. That’s where I think it could be most useful for Buffalo’s offense.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Other Bills in Pro Bowl running

Posted by Chris Brown on November 20, 2013 – 4:04 pm

With the news coming down that Mario Williams and Kiko Alonso are the leading vote getters among fans at their respective positions for the 2014 Pro Bowl, here are some of the other Bills who are in the hunt at their positions for fan votes.

DT Marcell Dareus – 3rd
DT Kyle Williams – 5th
SS Aaron Williams – 6th
K Dan Carpenter – 10th
ST Marcus Easley – 10th

Bills head coach Doug Marrone said just last week that if the team had a better won-loss record that Marcus Easley would have an excellent chance of being a Pro Bowl special teams player with the success he’s had in coverage.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 11-15

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2013 – 1:11 pm

Bills need to put an end to a three-game losing streak. A win over the Jets would be a good way to go into the bye. Here is your latest edition of questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris:

The Bills did not seem to be using Fred Jackson and CJ spiller in the game at the same time very much when they were both healthy this season.  Do you think we will ever see them utilized in a pro set or veer formation?  I just could see that as a great asset to utilize in a fast paced offence.

Thanks,
Chris

CB: Through the first 10 games I’ve got the Bills using their split back formation with Fred and C.J. on just four plays this season. They used it against the Jets in the first meeting in Week 3, so perhaps it’s rolled out again on Sunday.

As for a veer offense, coach Marrone has gone on record saying that’s not something they would do here in Buffalo.

 

2 – Hi Chris,

I  love your articles! With analytics being the buzz did anyone at the bills analyze how how many times we ran the ball between the tackles this year and got less than 4 yards a carry? Not end sweeps.

Thanks,
45 year bills fan

CB: I can’t tell you how many rushes specifically went for less than four yards, but I can tell you after 10 games where the gains have been the most successful to this point this year.

Run direction     Avg. gain              NFL Rank             Total rushes
Left  end              5.9                          11th                         20
Left tackle           4.38                        12th                         37
Left guard           3.89                        14th                         54
Center                  5.21                        7th                           103
Right guard         3.96                        11th                         52
Right tackle         3.61                        21st                         36
Right end             5.71                        9th                           14

3 – Hey Chris,
Thanks for everything you do keeping us fans informed!  I wanted to ask

Depending on how EJ plays down the stretch, and depending on where the Bills are drafting next year, do you think there’s ANY chance the Bills consider taking a QB in the first round next year to compete with EJ?  Or do you think EJ gets 2-3 years before another QB is considered?  (I think it’s too early to tell what the Bills have in EJ yet, but there seem to be some really good QBs in college this year, and this team seems to have all the pieces in place except (possibly) QB to make a serious run next year)

Also, do you think the Bills will consider doing any retooling at the WR position during the bye week?  They seem to have 3 talented WRs in Stevie, Woods, and Goodwin.  But Stevie’s production seems to have gone down since moving to the slot  and Graham hasn’t been impressive so far.  Goodwin seems to be faster and have better hands.

Adam

CB: I’m going to let coach Marrone handle this one. Here’s what he said concerning their investment in EJ. Here’s what coach said about Manuel this week.

“He needs to be out there.  The more he’s out there, the better he’s getting.  Also, I want to make sure everyone understands, I truly believe in this quarterback.

“He’s shown that he can do it.  He’s shown that he progresses during the course of the year, and during each and every play and each and every game.  When I go back and look at it, I see him getting better as the game goes on.  And I think that’s what you see with a young quarterback.

“If we want to sit here, and I say we, it’s all of us now, and we see this young guy, we’ve got to be able to say let’s let this guy develop and let’s go, and he’s going to get better each week.

“As far as his work ethic and how he goes about the game and all those other things, he’s outstanding.  The respect that he has from his teammates is outstanding.  When does it ever come to the point where you are that person, you are that guy, how long does it have to be?  You’ve got to win. You’ve got to consistently win.  A lot gets put on his plate for that, but a lot of the rest of us, including myself and the coaches, we’ve all got to do our part and we’ve all got to play well around him to be successful.”

 

4 – Chris,
I’ve noticed the Bills are lacking a big ‘go up and get it’ WR. Why has Easley seen so few offense snaps? I’ve seen him make great plays on special teams. Why don’t they try him more in the offense. He’s more physical than Graham and Goodwin. He’s still raw but they aren’t giving him the chance to see the field as WR.

Josh

CB: You’re right that Buffalo does not have a big-bodied, jump ball type of receiver, which is part of the reason they’ve had a problem in the red zone of late. They have Scott Chandler, who is a height mismatch, but need a receiver that can work the corners of the end zone on fades and jump balls.

Easley, even if he does not play much between the 20’s, could be part of the team’s red zone package knowing he’s a big 6’2” and 217 pounds. He should get some opportunities Sunday down there knowing Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods are out.

 

5 – I think Believe EJ Manuel would benefit greatly if the bills drafted a good young tight end prospect . Names Like Eric ebron North Carolina, Jace amaro Texas tech, and Austin seferian Jenkins of Washington come to mind. If the bills do not draft a te in the top half of the draft do they look elsewhere for a good te prospect such as a basketball player type . UB’s Javon McCrea who has soft hands and a huge frame  comes to mind . Any Chance the bills are Looking at an option Like This ?

Thanks !

Dustin in Alden

CB: With all due respect I think you’re overlooking Chris Gragg, who finally got some measurable playing time on offense in Pittsburgh. I think he’ll also factor in on offense in the passing game this week with Woods and Johnson out.

Gragg is an athletic pass catcher, who just needs time on the job. He tore his ACL in college and still runs a 4.5 40-time. There’s potential there.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-25

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2013 – 1:18 pm

Here’s the latest edition of questions from you the fans on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - @ChrisBrownBills

I would like to know how many special teams tackles Easley has inside the 20.

jkempfbills12

CB: We actually did a feature story today on Buffalobills.com on Marcus Easley. Our contributing correspondent Mark Belcher crunched the numbers and found that Buffalo leads the league with 10 kickoff coverage tackles inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Easley has six of them. The Bills gunner currently leads the league with 13 special teams tackles this season.

2 - @ChrisBrownBills

Hey Chris,
Do you see Bills Blitzing a lot on Sunday or playing more conservative with Brees pulling the trigger?

TVanderklok

CB: I think you have to careful with how you handle Drew Brees in terms of being aggressive. Brees is third in the NFL in passer rating against the blitz with a mark of 118.4, so blitzing is not a simple answer. Here’s head coach Doug Marrone on how to handle a quarterback he knows quite well having coached him for three seasons in New Orleans.

In his weekly appearance on Bills flagships station WGR Sportsradio 550, Marrone said the following when it comes to defending Brees.

“One thing you can’t do is you can’t be the same, show him the same type of look and play zone or man too much,” said Marrone. “If you give him a dose of the same stuff they’ll get after you. That’s the same with all those elite quarterbacks. You have to keep them thinking throughout the play. Before the play start if they have a good bead on what you’re doing they have an advantage. So if they’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing and people are moving around and they’re trying to figure it out as they go you have a better opportunity.”

3 – Chris,

Thanks for all the work you do! Regarding EJ, is he still in attendance at practice? Will he be at the game Sunday either on the sideline or in the box with Hackett?

Go bills!
Max

CB: EJ is not typically in attendance at practice, but he is in all the team meetings and reviewing film on a weekly basis. He is also traveling with the team and yes he is sitting in the coach’s booth with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to get a different perspective on the game from above.

This is what they did with Thad Lewis when he was on the practice squad.

4 – Chris,

I notice that the Bills don’t have an individual QB coach for your young QBs. Normally this wouldn’t be as much a concern if there was vet there to help mentor the young guys, but this isn’t the case.

I know Hackett is listed as QB coach, but he’s also OC, and has never played the position or coached it at a professional level. Are there plans to get the young QBs coaching on mechanics, game-time discussions, and work on mechanics that will help bring them along? After watching EJ struggle with mechanics, I’m worried the Bills have made a mistake in not providing a QB coach who has done it before as a resource.

Thanks Chris!
Todd, Rochester NY

CB: You’re right Hackett is both the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks coach. Head coach Doug Marrone did say when Kevin Kolb is fully recovered from his concussion that they’d like him to come around more and help the younger quarterbacks. We’ll see if that comes to pass.

 

5 – Chris,
Good pre-game coverage. Question:  How is it possible that Hogan is ahead of Easley on the WR depth chart.  I think Easley is a bigger, stronger WR than Hogan and has better hands and speed than Hogan. Makes no sense.  Very frustrating, reminds me back when Stevie was on the bench rather than starting when he was clearly the best WR option at that time years ago.

I think if Bills moved Easley ahead of Hogan they would be pleasantly surprised. I think once Easley demonstrates he can make plays they’ll have a hard time getting him out of the line up.

CB: I think you’re referring to the Cincinnati game in which Hogan saw his most playing time on offense. The main reason why he played more than Easley is he’s a backup slot receiver and Stevie Johnson missed that game with his back injury. Easley is strictly an outside receiver.

I think Hogan is also a quicker receiver in and out of his cuts than Easley, who is more of a long strider. Easley has build-up speed. Hogan is more sudden, which helps him gain quicker separation inside. That’s why he was a better fit.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Easley excelling as a gunner

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2013 – 10:53 am

Marcus Easley might not be getting a prime opportunity on offense at wide receiver, but he’s certainly made the most of his role on special teams. Lining up primarily as a gunner on both punt and kick return, Easley has very quietly become a dominant force on Buffalo’s coverage units.

Easley not only leads the Bills’ special teams unit in tackles through the first six games, but the league as well with 10 tackles. Long snapper Garrison Sanborn is second with seven.

Perhaps even more impressive is his league-leading total are all solo tackles. His two closest pursuers for the special teams tackle lead, Tennessee’s Tommie Campbell and New England’s Dane Fletcher both have a combination of solo and assisted tackles to reach their current totals of eight tackles.

With Easley it’s been all him. The receiver’s special teams exploits have been instrumental in Buffalo’s current perch atop the league in forcing the most opponent drive starts inside their own 20-yard line with nine. Dallas and San Francisco are tied for second in the league with eight.

He’s also a pretty big reason why Buffalo stands fourth in the league in kick coverage allowing opponents an average return of just 20.4 yards.

“On special teams Marcus Easley is a player who has done a really, really good job,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “He’s really stepped it up for us.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 10-11

Posted by Chris Brown on October 11, 2013 – 12:07 pm

Another edition of Fan Friday with your questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

Great job keeping Bills Nation up to speed as usual.  I think Jim Leonhard has been instrumental is providing some “glue” to the secondary so far this year.  When we signed him in late in camp, did we sign him to a multi-year deal, and if not, do you think we should lock him up for next year now?  At 30, he can clearly still play well.

Thanks!

Matthew Kerr
Dayton, OH
SEASON TICKET HOLDER SINCE 2005

CB: Leonhard was an astute signing. He knew Pettine’s defense coming in and has helped direct the defensive backfield in the absence of Jairus Byrd and others. He’s currently here on a one-year contract. I think a lot of what Buffalo does at safety hinges on the situation with Byrd, so I wouldn’t anticipate anything elsewhere at the position until that is resolved.

 

2 - Hi Chris,

I notice that many injured players getting closer to becoming activated practice on the “scout team.”  Why is that?  Does the scout team (I presume an attempt to mirror the week’s opponent) practice less and is less physical?  I am not sure why, for instance, if Jairus Byrd, still recovering, is a “full participant,” he is practicing on the scout team — it seems to make sense for him to be practicing with the 1st or 2nd team to practice the week’s game plan.  Does practicing on the scout team, even if a “full participant,” indicate that that player is unlikely to play that week?

Matthew from Los Angeles

CB: When a player is typically working on the scout team coming off an injury, it’s an indication that they’re unlikely to play Sunday because they’re not getting the reps on defense or offense for that week’s game plan. If they’re not repping the assignments in the game plan during the week, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be trying to execute them on Sunday.

Very often a player coming off injury is used on the scout team as a way of getting them back into the flow of the practice setting. It’s not any less physically demanding, but they’re just not at the point in their recovery where they’re fit to play on Sunday. They’re medically cleared to practice, but not all the way back to play effectively in a game.
3 - Hi Chris,

Why do you think the Bills haven’t used Chris Gragg more often? He showed some good skills coming out of Arkansas, and in the preseason. I would think he could help open up our offense, in two tight end sets.

Thanks,
Dan

CB: The Bills coaching staff watches young players and their progress in the practice setting constantly. If they see a jump in a player’s performance in practice they’ll often be given an opportunity on a game day. Brandon Smith, who was called up from the practice squad is a prime example.

Gragg is a player the team clearly values, but with Scott Chandler the primary receiving weapon at the position and Lee Smith a solid in line blocker (something Gragg is still working on) it’s hard to know when Gragg sees the field.

 

4 - Chris,

Can you help us understand the philosophy of Bills playing calling on first down?  There seems to be no imagination and nothing to keep defense’s guessing.  I predicted every first down offensive play last night.  Except for CJ’s run they all were awful.  I am really concerned about Hackett’s ability.

Dave Hardy

CB: You are right the Bills do have a high propensity of running the football on first down. They are second in the league in percentage of run plays on 1st-and-10 at 62.5%. Only Seattle is higher (64.2%). It is admittedly a high figure, but Buffalo is also first in the AFC in rushing and third in the league.

You might see it as predictable, but predictability matters less when there’s consistent production. Buffalo’s run game has been productive and they’ve done it against a pair of top five run defenses in each of their last two games.

Last year there were a lot of fans that were complaining that the run game was scrapped too quickly. Hackett sticks with it and to this point the Bills have been rewarded with C.J. Spiller’s long touchdown run against Cleveland the most recent example.

 

5 - Chris

I still think the Bills receiving game would Open up much more with an alignment of Woods and Easley on the outside and then rotating Stevie, TJ and Hogan in the slot.

what do you think ?

Randy C
Florida
CB: I think the Bills coaches feel they have more effective options for their passing attack ahead of him. Buffalo’s passing game is primarily based on timing and receivers getting early separation. Easley is fast, but he has build-up speed, so quick separation is not his specialty.

Easley can serve as an effective deep threat, but the coaching staff obviously feels that Graham and Goodwin more effective deep threats.

That being said he’s been fantastic on kick coverage this season. He’ll have to wait his turn on offense.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Depth chart changes

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2013 – 2:00 pm

In the wake of the loss of Alex Carrington there have been a couple of shifts on the Bills depth chart. Here’s a look.

First, Alan Branch is now listed as the starting left defensive end, with Corbin Bryant as his backup. Truthfully I see Branch rotating in to spell Dareus and Kyle Williams more than playing the end position. As coach Marrone indicated Corbin Bryant figures to see the most work in what is now Carrington’s vacant role.

On kick return Marcus Easley is now listed as the official backup to Marquise Goodwin, who is still recovering from a broken hand in Week 1. Easley hasn’t had much of an opportunity to return with all the booming kickoffs the Bills have seen the first three games. In fact Easley has made more of an impact in kickoff coverage turning in big tackles each of the last two weeks.

Finally Jim Leonhard is now listed as the backup punt returner to Leodis McKelvin, a role in which he served last week after McKelvin left with a hamstring injury. Leonhard was a pretty accomplished punt returner in college.

Even if McKelvin is able to play this week, it’s likely that Leonhard gets punt return work as the Bills will probably try not to overextend McKelvin with added special teams duties.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Returners trying to stay patient

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2013 – 12:05 pm

Buffalo’s kick returners and punt returners have largely been held in neutral the first two weeks thanks to big legged kickers. Not having an impact on the Bills field position has been tough to take, but head coach Doug Marrone is preaching patience.

Through the first two games Buffalo has just one punt return from Leodis McKelvin with three fair catches. T.J. Graham has the team’s only kick return back in Week 1. That’s been it. Everything else on kickoffs have been touchbacks.

Marrone has told his players not to force anything.

“I think you’re at the mercy and you have to be careful. You can’t get frustrated back there,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “We can’t lose sight of the fact that we will get opportunities as the year goes on and we have to be ready for it. That’s one of the most important things. The other side is we can’t become frustrated where we feel we have to make something happen and go for kicks that you normally wouldn’t go for. We have great patience. We’ll wait and when those opportunities come we’ll be ready to go.”

Marcus Easley is again expected to be the primary kick returner with McKelvin on punts. Easley could get some chances with Nick Folk ranking 23rd in the league in touchback percentage (57.1%) for the Jets. New York also just signed a new punter this week in Ryan Quigley after opponents had nine punt returns for 107 yards in two games.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 9-20

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2013 – 11:44 am

The second big division game in three weeks coming up on Sunday. Don’t forget the 4:25 pm start this week. Here are some of the more popular questions from you the fans this week. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 -  Hi Chris,

I noticed that Jamaal Westerman made the roster, however I know very little about this athlete. Can you you provide a bit of information as to how he made the team.

thanks & regards
from Richard in Los Angeles

CB: Westerman was a late free agent signee during training camp. The advantage he had was he spent three seasons in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme with the Jets as a reserve OLB from 2009-2011 after New York signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers.

He split last season between Indianapolis and Arizona, and through his first two weeks here it’s clear he’s got an important role on special teams (39 snaps in 2 games) with a rotational role on defense where to this point he’s been used sparingly.


2 –
Hi Chris.

I’m curious about how our offense is called and I’m hoping you can shed some light. Does the Marrone/Hackett offense use simplified terms as part of the fast-paced attack? I would assume so, given the emphasis on fast execution and the fact that it’s an established trend made clearly successful by the likes of Peyton manning, New England and others…but I’ve read that our offense is based on the west coast system, which of course uses long, complex terminology…I’ve always believed that this simplicity is key to why manning and Brady-led offenses make fewer self-defeating mistakes than most other teams. Thanks…

CB: I know there was a detailed piece in the Boston Globe last year by Greg Bedard on the short-worded plays in New England’s offense. Sometimes just one word said it all. The Bills do similarly keep their play calls short for the purpose of moving faster as well. Oftentimes the plays are just three to five words. So your suspicions are correct.


3 –
Chris,

I read in two different articles that the new CBA says that if Carpenter is on our active roster on opening day and then we cut him after the Pats game we have to pay him the entire season veteran minimum of $630,000.00. Is that the way the CBA works now?

Thanks.
Long time Buffalo Fan

CB: Yes, that’s right, but that’s always been the case even prior to the new CBA in 2011. When a vested veteran player (4 accrued season in the league) is signed prior to the first regular season game so long as he is still on the roster the Saturday before the opener his salary for that season is guaranteed.

The Bills were really in a difficult spot due to Hopkins injury. They needed someone to kick and have to bite the bullet on Carpenter’s salary even though he’s unlikely to be here for the whole season.

This is why you often see NFL clubs wait until the Tuesday after the season opener to sign veteran free agents they might need to fill a hole on the roster. By signing a veteran player in Week 2 a  team is free to release said player without owing him his full season salary.

The Bills in this case didn’t have that option.

4 – Chris,

Don’t you think the Bills may get more from the WR position going with Easley and Hogan over Graham and Goodwin ?

I think Easley is ready to take the next step and Hogan has a knack for getting open.  Goodwin is now injured and Graham has yet to show he can gain separation and make plays.  Easley has good speed as well to try and stretch the field.

Randy C

CB: While I don’t disagree with your assessments of Easley and Hogan, I do disagree with your assessment of T.J. Graham.

Graham has been open, he just hasn’t been targeted much by E.J. Manuel. In fact on the final drive in the Carolina game alone he was wide open on three plays. What you have to understand is if Graham is not the primary or secondary read, it’s less likely that he’ll be targeted in the passing game.

Through two games he’s been targeted a total of four times.

We also need to consider the possibility that in an effort to not put too much on Manuel’s plate the offensive staff might only be having him read half the field on certain pass plays so he has only two reads instead of three or four in an effort to avoid sacks by getting the ball out faster.

But in watching the game film I can tell you Graham is getting separation and is getting open a good amount of the time.


5 –
Hi Chris,

Thank you for the great Bills coverage you provide day in and day out.

Question,  is tight end Mike Caussin on the Bills Injured Reserve list?  I know he was initially waived injured.  I don’t see his name listed in the injured reserve section of the Bills Roster on buffalobills.com.  I read he had season ending hip surgery on August 21.  Any word on how he is doing?

Thanks!
Richard

CB: Yes, Mike Caussin is on the Bills injured reserve list. He was waived-injured on Aug. 14th and when he was not claimed by another NFL club, he reverts back to Buffalo’s injured reserve list. And that’s where he is at this time.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

All 6 Bills WRs up today

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2013 – 12:51 pm

The Bills have all six of their wide receivers on the 53-man roster up today. It serves as solid indication that Buffalo’s offense is going to be spreading the field a good deal against the Patriots today.

Most NFL clubs when facing the Patriots formidable front seven, which was ninth in the league against the run in 2012, spread the field in order to run the ball. Most expect Buffalo to do the same.

Four of Buffalo’s six receivers (Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods) are playing in their first career NFL regular season game today.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Where Marrone sits with WR corps

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2013 – 1:06 am

The wide receiving corps was a group that was going to lead to some difficult decisions for Doug Marrone and his coaching staff come roster cut time. With the deadline to reduce the roster to 53 coming at 6 pm Saturday, here’s where Marrone stands concerning his receivers that are likely to stick.

“Right now I feel very comfortable with five or six of those players right now,” he said. “I think you’re going to look at the game (Thursday night), but there’s a body of work for people. It’s been tough for them with Kevin (Kolb) being hurt and then Jeff (Tuel) being in there and EJ (Manuel) being in there and then bringing in two other guys.

“My point on that is I weigh a little bit more on what they’ve done in the past than just (one game) evaluating them. I feel good about that position and if we put the right guy out there we can make some good things happen.”

Marcus Easley probably helped himself the most on Thursday with a long 79-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the only touchdown against the Lions.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Playing time thru 2 for WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on August 24, 2013 – 2:35 pm

Here’s a look at the snap counts for the Bills wide receivers through two preseason games.

Knowing their snaps on special teams could be an indicator as to a receiver’s chances to make the roster, below the table of their snap counts on offense are their special teams snap counts as well.

WR offensive snap counts thru 2 games
Name                                    Snaps
Robert Woods                   65
Marcus Easley                   63
Chris Hogan                        59
Brandon Kaufman           53
Marquise Goodwin         52
DeMarco Sampson          44
Da’Rick Rogers                  33
T.J. Graham (1 gm)          27
Brad Smith (1 gm)            11

WR special teams snap counts thru 2 games
Name                                    Snaps
Marcus Easley                   24
Chris Hogan                        16
Da’Rick Rogers                  16
Marquise Goodwin         14
DeMarco Sampson          12
Robert Woods                   10
Brad Smith (1 gm)            2
T.J. Graham (1 gm)          1
Brandon Kaufman           0

The coaching staff’s eagerness to get long looks at Easley and Hogan are obvious on both offense and special teams. Not seeing any time on special teams for Brandon Kaufman certainly doesn’t help his cause. We’ll have to see if he sees action on special teams this afternoon against Washington.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Do Hogan and Easley have edge in WR battle?

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2013 – 1:27 am

Bills receivers Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley saw the most action at receiver early in the win over Minnesota Friday night. Hogan finished as the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 34 yards on seven targets. Easley was targeted five times and had three catches for 46 yards. With just one or possibly two open spots left at receiver, Hogan and Easley could be the pair with a slim lead on the rest of the competition.

It’s widely believed that Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin are locked in as the top four wideouts.

That leaves one, possibly two (if the team keeps 6 WRs) spots open for players like Hogan and Easley, who have been among the more productive reserve receivers to this point in camp and the game.

Head coach Doug Marrone has certainly noticed.

“Those guys have done a nice job in training camp, they’ve done a good job in special teams,” said Marrone. “They got a lot of looks out there, so again the more we can put them on tape the better they can get and develop. Marcus was out for a bit of time (in the spring). Hogan has been very productive for us, so I just think it’s a matter of having those guys out there. It’s going to be some tough decisions to make down the road on the receivers with the numbers. We’ve got some pretty good players and guys that are playing well at that receiver position.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Battle tight among secondary WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2013 – 10:15 pm

It seems as though the top four receivers slots are pretty much set with Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin manning those roles. Beyond that however, the battle for spots five and possibly six is heating up in the wake of the team’s preseason opener.

Chris Hogan was targeted three times and made a pair of receptions for 11 yards. That included a third down conversion on a 3rd-and-3 that led to a field goal for Buffalo. In fact all three times that EJ Manuel targeted Hogan was on third downs as Hogan worked primarily out of the slot Sunday.

Da’Rick Rogers was targeted just once in the game, but made the most of it earning praise from head coach Doug Marrone on his six-yard touchdown reception.

“Da’Rick Rogers really set the guy up nice, pushed him outside, ran the slant, scored the touchdown,” said Marrone.

Marcus Easley not only led all receivers in Sunday’s game with seven receptions for 94 yards, but now stands tied for the league lead in receptions after preseason Week 2 with Miami’s Chad Bumphis. He’s also second only to Bumphis in receiving yardage. Bumphis has 111 receiving yards.

Three of his receptions came on the first touchdown drive of the second half that was capped by Rogers. They went for 9, 29 and 13 yards respectively. He then caught four more balls on the next drive as Jeff Tuel was locked in on him for another 43 yards, good for more than half of the 68 yards on the drive.

“There were a lot of routes that we won. Easley made a couple of nice plays,” said Marrone.

And Brandon Kaufman tried to make himself a part of the conversation with a pair of catches for 34 yards, including a difficult grab along the sideline and a touchdown reception.

“I thought those guys were winning quite a bit out there. It’s got me interested moving forward,” said Marrone. “The one thing is those guys are going to have some opportunities and when they have those opportunities they’ll be able to separate themselves and we’ll keep evaluating. The good thing about it is that may be a tough decision down the road for us in how does that break up with those receivers? But that’s not a bad thing. I think we’ve got guys where all those guys I know can play at this level.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Receiver listings most interesting

Posted by Chris Brown on August 5, 2013 – 4:17 pm

depth-chart-bbcomThere aren’t a lot of surprises on the Bills first unofficial depth chart. At receiver though where there will be a lot of jockeying for position and roles, it worth noting how things are laid out here at the outset.

The top four receivers listed on the depth chart are Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. The next sets of pairings are as follows.

Brad Smith and Chris Hogan
Marcus Easley and Kevin Elliott
Da’Rick Rogers and DeMarco Sampson
Brandon Kaufman and Terrell Sinkfield

There are obviously still four preseason games to be played so these positions are likely to be shuffled somewhat before the preseason is over. Just knowing there are eight receivers in the mix for one or two of the final receiver spots should make for some heated competition.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-21

Posted by Chris Brown on June 21, 2013 – 12:19 pm

Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

The media and players talk a lot about enthusiasm and things they love about the new coaching staff being brought in. Is it any MORE enthusiasm than any other new regime that you’ve seen take over? Or is it the same kind of enthusiasm you get when the coaching staff gets replaced for a new one?

-Nate

CB: I would say that the enthusiasm witnessed here is greater than any new regime I’ve covered, which numbers six counting Marrone. I think Marrone and his staff have done an excellent job of developing a completely different approach from that of the past. The coaches are for the most part younger and more energetic, which enables them to relate to the players more. I also believe the staff is cutting edge and the players know it.

These coaches sound as though they have a plan for everything that can or will come up through the course of a football season. The players feel like the coaches have the answers. Of course executing those answers out on the field is the most important thing, but these players have come to quickly believe that they’ll be put in the best position to succeed.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

First off, I want to thank you for your in-depth coverage of the Bills. It’s really great for us fans living in other parts of the world!

My question is why are the kickers only taking 6 to 7 kicks a practice? Seems like so few “reps” when there is such a stiff competition at the position. Also, who do you see as the leader going into voluntary workouts?

Thanks again,
Brenning Greenfield
Crozet, VA

CB: The kicking statistics I would periodically provide in my OTA and minicamp practice notes were only the kicks that were attempted during the team portions of practice for special teams. During practice the kickers and punters typically go on a neighboring field to kick when the offense and defense are working on the main practice field.

Since I need to track the goings on during the team portions of practice with offense and defense I don’t have the option of going to view the kickers at that time. So yes, they do kick a good deal more than just those handful of attempts that occur during team segments.

3 – Hi Chris

I was wondering about your interaction with players on a personal level.  Over the years, have you ever made friends with any of the players to the point where you kept in touch once they left?   Have there been any players who really liked to ‘give you a hard time’ in a teasing/joking around way?

Just curious as to their interactions with you when the cameras are off, any insight would be great.

Brad in Rochester

CB: I’ve obviously come to know players that have been around a bit longer than others. I don’t really strive to know players on a personal level because it makes things awkward on both sides in light of my role with the team. I certainly know there are some players with whom I have a lot more rope when it comes to joking around, but it’s important that the players know they can trust me to fairly report on their play and performance. Befriending players muddies the waters.

As for players that would yank your chain, Sam Adams often tried to mess around with me. Aaron Schobel was another, but he did that with everyone.

 

4 – With Tarvaris Jackson being released it makes me think. We gave up a, what 3rd round pick this year for a player that didn’t dress for a game all last year? And didn’t make it to training camp.

After just re-signing him to a new contract. What a waste of time & money. Sure make Buddy look silly. Is there more to this story? ie attitude, poor performance, lack of effort..

Thanks Gary in Indy
CB: The Bills gave up just a seventh-round pick for Jackson, and yes there is more to the story. The Bills coaching staff quickly discovered that the combination of three quarterbacks vying for the starting job while also trying to install a new offensive system with three new signal callers was a bad one.

As important as it was to find the best quarterback for the job they also needed to provide enough reps to each of the QB candidates in the spring and training camp to ensure that any one of them would be ready to play come Week 1. That wasn’t going to happen with three of them splitting the snaps in practice.

So the coaching staff made a difficult decision to pull the odd man out, which was Jackson. Now whether it’s Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel that’s the starter, they’ll both have enough reps in the system where they and the staff will feel comfortable with them running the offense when the games count.

 

5 – Chris,

Great work covering our Bills, as always.

As far as WRs go, I heard you and Murph on Wednesday night talking about the top 5 being Stevie, Woods, Graham, Goodwin and Rogers and it being hard to unseat those guys. Then after that, you lumped 3 different WRs fighting for that #6 spot. I noticed that you did not mention Easley into that top group of WRs. In all that’s happened in the last few years, does Easley have an uphill battle to make the roster?

Is the talent that deep that we may not see him make the roster this year? I believe his practice squad eligibility is over, but it’d be a shame to lose him completely from the roster (and possibly the NFL) without seeing what his size and talent could bring to this team.

-Nate in Rochester

CB: I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of Easley over the years. I believe he does have a skill set that could succeed in this league, but his body just won’t cooperate. This spring he again missed a good deal of the practices due to an undisclosed injury.

His inability to stay healthy has been a hurdle that’s proven difficult for him to clear. Knowing the Bills made sizable investments in Woods and Goodwin with day 2 draft choices and knowing that Easley is a player that is now being inherited by the current staff without any measure of production at the NFL level he’s in a tough spot.

I’m not saying the challenge he’s facing is insurmountable, but he has to be healthy and get through the entire camp and preseason to even have a shot. After pure talent the second most important quality in a player is arguably availability. That’s something Easley has unfortunately struggled with the most.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-7

Posted by Chris Brown on June 7, 2013 – 11:46 am

Got to tip the hat to those that led and were a part of the Allied invasion on this D-Day. Our thanks to you all. Now for the latest edition of of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I love the speed we’re assembling, especially on offense.  If you had to rank the fastest offenses, where would the Bills fall?

I think the criticism Nix has received is largely unfair.  Not even the best GM can hit on every pick and the way he approaches building a team is smart.  I have a lot of respect for how the Giants built their team and I feel like Buddy is very similar in style.  I wish we could have had Nix for 10 years at the helm!  What will be his actual duties going forward? I know he’ll still be involved with the team but how much is the question.

Thanks for everything you do!  Dave.

CB: Your speed question is an interesting one. I would certainly put the speed on Buffalo’s offense at the top of the division, though Miami has made a point to add speed as well in Mike Wallace and their top back this season Lamar Miller can move. Still, he’s no C.J. and I think the addition of an athletic tight end prospect in Chris Gragg tips the scale in Buffalo’s favor over the Dolphins.

Beyond the division I think other teams with top flight speed on offense that numbers more than two players include Philadelphia (McCoy, Maclin, Jackson), Denver (Demaryius Thomas, Trindon Holliday, Welker) and Minnesota (Jerome Simpson, Cordarrelle Pattterson, Peterson), but that’s about it.

As for Buddy Nix, I agree with your assessment. He’s patiently built the roster filling in a great number of holes the past few years and finally added one of the final pieces in quarterback EJ Manuel. The roster is not loaded, but he certainly left the team in much better shape than the one he inherited.

He’ll be a special assistant for the team moving forward, kind of like a sounding board for the organization on personnel matters, but he won’t be involved in the day-to-day grind.

 

2 – I think a lot of Bills fans are wondering about Marcus Easley and how he looks in practice this year. Any insights?

Thanks!  Gary

CB: Unfortunately Easley has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury. No word on whether he’ll be able to participate in the upcoming mandatory minicamp. We’ll know more next week.

I’ll admit it’s tough to watch his career get interrupted time and again by injuries. It’s never had a chance to truly develop.

 

3 – Hi Chris:

I have one simple question to ask you, why did the Bills NOT sign Karlos Dansby after his visit to the Bills??  Who did not like him well enough to try to sign him?  Was it Buddy Nix??  I await your answer.  Thank you.

Bills fan in TN

CB: My interpretation on the whole Karlos Dansby situation was the Bills were interested in signing him at a designated price tag. If Dansby sought more money or felt there was a better opportunity for him elsewhere, that was his prerogative.

I never got the sense that Buffalo was desperate to sign him. There was interest, but they weren’t going to overpay for a linebacker who was capable, but not an ideal fit because he lacked versatility.

 

4 – Chris:

Long-time reader, first-time writer. Congrats again on the Manuel call. I heard the idea from you first, so credit where credit’s due!

Quick question about the Ralph renovations. What’s the timetable? Has any work started? As a season-ticket holder, I’m excited about the planned changes, and I wanted to know if anything will be different come the home opener. Thanks, and keep up the great work.

Will in Philadelphia

CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to renovations there will be some work done this year, but it won’t be all that noticeable to the fans attending the stadium. That’s because it’s a lot of the guts of the stadium that will be upgraded. The more cosmetic projects like the east end scoreboard additions and big west end pavilion project will not get going until 2014.

 

5 - Hi Chris:

Love your coverage of the Bills!
Low priority for you…do you know what type of visor Coach Marrone wears?

I can’t find it…?!
Thank you for any info you can get.
Go Bills!  8 – 8 this year and playoffs next year!  ???

Mark Stuhlmiller
Casper, WY

CB: From what I have been told that visor is currently not available, but with Coach Marrone wearing it I understand that there are efforts being made to make the visor available in the future. If I hear anything new I’ll let you know.

 


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